Works in Progress

"The Stringency of Human Rights Conditions in EU Trade Agreements: The Lisbon Treaty and Changes in Institutional Bargaining"


Linking human rights to trade has been viewed as an effective way to improve human rights in developing countries, and the European Union has been the most active promoter of this effort. Yet, these clauses hardly get enforced, but are highly controversial and are in most cases resisted by the trading partners, oftentimes leading to a holdup in negotiations. There is criticism that the EU is stricter on some countries and weaker on others, regardless of actual human rights situations. What explains this inconsistency? While previous studies have answered this question through the EU’s strategic interests or institutional politics, the former treats the EU as a unitary actor, and the latter ignores the interests of the trading partners. By incorporating both approaches and with a focus on the role of institutions, I argue that these clauses are an outcome of a change in the bargaining power of European institutions through the Lisbon Treaty that granted the European Parliament veto powers in the EU trade policy-making process. Before the treaty, higher resource dependence on the trading partner is associated with weaker conditions. However, once the Parliament, a more pro-human rights institution entered the game, the Commission has to take into account the chance of a veto. Post-treaty, when public trust in the Commission is low, it concedes more to the Parliament and conditions become stronger even in resource-dependent countries. I test this by analyzing all of the EU preferential trade agreements between 1970 to 2022, developing an original measure to empirically examine the stringency of conditionality patterns across treaties. This study has broader implications for the institutional determinants of trade policies in the IPE and EU politicization literature.

"Accepting EU Norms in Trade: The Role of Authoritarian Trade Agreements"

"Partisan Effects and Domestic Politics of Labor and Human Rights Conditionalities in EU Trade Agreements"

Publications (Peer -Reviewed)

“Linking the Death Penalty to Trade: Bureaucratic Politics among European Institutions,” East and West Studies, Vol. 30 No. 3 (2018), pp. 67-99 (with Min Gyo Koo).